Today, our department joins organizations nationwide to observe National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. This event was established in 2013 to support young people living with HIV, promote HIV education and awareness, and encourage youth to get tested.
Nationally, the CDC estimates that 51% of youth 13 to 24 who have HIV aren’t aware they are living with the disease. Among those who do know their status, only 21% of youth aged 18 to 24 were taking HIV medications, and just 16% were virally suppressed (undetectable). HIV treatment is a key part of ending the HIV epidemic. When a person living with HIV is virally suppressed, their risk of passing HIV on to others is reduced by 96%.
In 2015, 21% of Arizona’s new HIV/AIDS cases were youth aged 13 to 24. Our Office of HIV Prevention is working with partners statewide to significantly decrease the number of youth getting HIV. Last year, health departments and community organizations provided more than 12,000 HIV tests to youth. Outreach campaigns in Phoenix, Tucson, and Prescott are promoting fast, free HIV testing. Some agencies are partnering with schools to provide HIV education to youth, discussing both traditional and new HIV prevention options, such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Other agencies offer quality medical care and supportive services to those living with HIV.